Academic journal article Global Virtue Ethics Review

Civic Learning Via Service-Learning: A Proposed Framework and Methodology to Linking Servant Leadership Theory to the Contemporary Practice of Community Policing

Academic journal article Global Virtue Ethics Review

Civic Learning Via Service-Learning: A Proposed Framework and Methodology to Linking Servant Leadership Theory to the Contemporary Practice of Community Policing

Article excerpt

"A democracy is more than a form of government; it is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experiences." (Dewey, 1916: p. 101).

Abstract

Nexus problems continue to impede the successful application of academic theory to the real world dynamics of professional practice. Emergent conflicts, tensions, and dissensions are identified in Williams' (2002) examination of coupling the theory of servant leadership with the contemporary practice of community policing. This paper offers service-learning as an option to better train future police practitioners. The authors argue that a civic learning via service-learning approach to train pre- and in-service local law enforcement officers may be better suited to bridging the theory--practice divide and enhancing the application of servant leadership principles in the contemporary practice of community policing.

Introduction

Overcoming the praxis dilemmas and the nexus problems that often accompany the convergence of sterile and orderly theories with professional practice in mucky and muddled political environments continues to be a problem for public administration practitioners and practitioners of other applied disciplines. These challenges are illuminated in Williams' (2002) essay, which examines coupling the theory of servant leadership with the contemporary practice of community policing. His article reveals certain points of linkage, highlights places of conflict and dissension and identifies those "Judas opportunities" and "Judas possibilities" that could emerge from misguided intentions of officers. These intentions could result in police officers "serving for fun and profit"--behaviors that contradict the guiding philosophy of community policing and is at odds with the current paradigm of the post-bureaucratic era of government (Patterson, 2002).

Williams concludes his essay by conceding the compatibility of servant leadership theory with community policing practice, acknowledging the obstacles and problems that arise from the coercive nature of some aspects of policing, and by raising a series of professional, practical, and ethical questions:

* To whom should the (community policing) servant leader be accountable?

* Is servant leadership an innate quality or characteristic?

* If not, can it be learned?

* Can servant leadership be captured in a professional training curriculum?

* Can servant leadership be measured? If so, how?

* Who and what should be used to evaluate the performance of servant leaders?

* How can public organizations prevent the "Judas opportunities and possibilities?"

These questions relate to the more general, servant leadership or "steward leadership" questions of Smith (2000) and speak to two major issues: (1) what constitutes effective training for servant leadership and (2) what forms of performance monitoring, auditing, and surveillance are needed and appropriate to defer and/or detect the emerging "Judases."

This essay will focus on question 1, thereby, we assume that servant leadership is not an innate quality or characteristic, but can be captured in a training curriculum. Furthermore, we propose that servant leadership and its notions of stewardship can be taught, and learned by pre- and in-service police officers. Hence, our paper seeks to build upon the scrutiny of Williams (2002) by exploring what constitutes effective training for servant leadership, in general, and what methodology or orientation to training may aid in better connecting the ethics and values of servant leadership in the application of community policing, in particular. In the following paragraphs, we propose, conceptualize, and briefly describe a framework and a methodology for effectively coupling the moral principles of servant leadership with the contemporary practice of community policing.

The Framework: Civic Learning as Moral Learning

The Reemergence and Benefits of Civic Learning

Barber (1993), Putnam (1995) and other scholars note the decline of civic-engagement in American society and argue that the lack of community service may account for this trend in students. …

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